Nebraska Center for Writers

Chimney Rock What the Critics Say


Star in the Eye
Copyright © 2008
by James Shea
Fence Books

Shea's compressed narration moves in logical jerks that result in the delightful accretion of visual surprises. The speaker's relationship to nature evokes a kind of eco-consciousness, which resists slipping into clunky agitprop critique. Instead the speaker of "Turning and Running" insists on a reappraisal of [his conditional relationship to nature and concludes, "There were at least four things / I should have said. Do not step on the rug / with the live birds sewn into it." — Douglas Piccinnini, Verse Magazine

The speaker of Star in the Eye is wide-awake in a dreamscape, navigating an illustrated netherworld where the "Plane's Controls Come Off in My Hands" and a love affair can be distilled into the titles of unwritten haikus — all in the same poem. Again and again James Shea brings us to the edge of the unknown and points into the darkness, until our eyes adjust and we see that he is pointing at himself, already there. These poems make me wish I had the same dreams Shea has, and after reading this book it seems possible — anything does. — Nick Flynn

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